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SMD prepares for winter with new volunteers, new board members, and new coats

Wow, it’s been a couple of months since our last blog post. I hope we haven’t left you hanging! This fall has brought some great additions to our organization, including some folks that have helped expand our impact during street runs. Arta Duda, a volunteer from Wayne State University, has been providing patients with care packages containing socks and other hygiene items. We have also had the pleasure of working with Mr. Ed Mischel from the Detroit Medical Center. Mr. Mischel is helping SMD provide better psychiatric care, and his assistance has improved our ability to offer services for patients with mental illness.

We just completed our fall recruitment for SMD’s Board of Directors, and I’m excited to say that we selected 8 new board members from the M1 class. No doubt they will be a great addition to the team. Check out our leadership page to see the new and improved Street Medicine Detroit Board!

As the fall comes to an end, SMD is on alert for injuries due to cold weather exposure. We are trying our best to help our patients stay warm and safe this winter. To that end, we are excited to announce that we recently received a generous donation of winter coats from a local Detroit nonprofit organization called The Empowerment Plan. The coat produced by the Empowerment Plan is special for two reasons. First off, it’s surprisingly resilient. The waterproof coat, which can also be unfolded to function as a sleeping bag, keeps its wearer warm in temperatures as low as 17 degrees. Secondly, The Empowerment Plan employs women who have had some experience with homelessness. The organization hires these women as seamstresses and also helps support their transition into stable housing. Presently, The Empowerment Plan has 18 previously homeless women on staff, and 16 of these women have found stable housing in a home or apartment. The remaining two employees are currently in the process of transitioning into housing. The idea to produce winter coats for those experiencing homelessness started as a class project for then College for Creative Studies student Veronika Scott. With a couple of successful prototypes and some local support, Ms. Scott went on to found The Empowerment Plan. The organization is set to produce and distribute 5,000 coats this year.

 Empowerment Plan coat. Photo from  www.empowermentplan.org

Empowerment Plan coat. Photo from www.empowermentplan.org

We at Street Medicine Detroit are very grateful to have Empowerment Plan coats to offer to our patients in danger of life-threatening cold exposure. Although we focus on trying to help our patients enter housing programs and shelters, the reality of the matter is that this process can take time and many are forced to brave the cold weather as they wait to be housed. These coats will make a great difference in the quality of life of our patients, and for that we’d like to give a big thank you to The Empowerment Plan!

Anthony McClafferty MSII, SMD Communications